MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — After a misleading press release suggested they’d bowed to pressure from apartheid Israeli officials, Google representatives denied that they agreed to allow censorship of Palestinian videos on YouTube and other Google websites.
The news of Israeli officials’ interactions with Google came after Palestinians have used YouTube to expose violence by illegal Israeli settlers and members of the Israeli Defense Forces, including planting knives on executed Palestinian teenagers.
According to Saed Bannoura, a reporter from the International Middle East Media Center, a Hebrew-language press release published last week on Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website claimed that ministry officials met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Jennifer Oztzistzki, director of Public Policy for Google, who agreed to allow the censorship of videos published by Palestinians on YouTube and other websites controlled by the Internet giant.
However, after the agreement was widely reported in the media, a Google representative issued the following statement:
“Following media reports about a meeting last week between Google / YouTube executives and the Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, we wanted to clarify that this meeting was one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals.
The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has corrected its original announcement which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish ‘a mechanism to monitor online materials.’”
Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, claimed Palestinians are using social media to “indoctrinate” children, according to a Nov. 24 press release on the Israeli ministry’s website. She continued: “We are engaged daily in confronting incitement to violence, a task which can benefit greatly from the cooperation of those companies that are involved in social media.”
In 2008, YouTube banned videos which incite others to commit acts of violence, regardless of the nationality of the person publishing the video. Activists were alarmed by the news that Google might have granted special digital abilities to Israeli officials, as Palestinians more frequently use YouTube and other social media sites to expose how the Israeli army attempts to justify the violence it commits against Palestinian protesters.
Writing on Thursday for his blog Tikun Olam, Richard Silverstein, an Israel-Palestine affairs analyst for MintPress News, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about Israel’s pronouncements of impending Internet censorship.
“There are so many problems with Hotovely’s claims, it’s hard to know where to start,” Silverstein wrote, adding:
“I strongly doubt Google has agreed to any formal arrangement that could lead to restricting video content. But if they have, it would be very important to know this.
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